(In the previous installment we learned about another conference, urged by WiIlem Lodewijk, Count of Nassau and Governor of Friesland, between three representatives of the Remonstrants, led by Johannes Uitenbogaard, and three representatives of the Reformed, led by Festus Hommius. The Remonstrants sought toleration for their views—no strings attached. The Reformed sought a limited toleration pending the convening of a National Synod. The conference was held at Delft, but it was fruitless. When the Remonstrants reported to the States, however, they continued to press not only for toleration but for the removal of the Deputies of the Churches from any position of real power in the churches. The Remonstrants wanted free rein. In this installment the story of their efforts to obtain toleration is continued.)
In order now to gain this toleration more easily through public authority (the toleration for which they pressed so much as the means through which they merely hoped to be able to introduce their doctrine in the churches), they made use of this strategy. A certain writing in which the true state of the differences was not correctly presented was sent in England by the Advocate Hugo Grotius to the Ambassador of the States-General, along with the draft of a letter requesting him that he would petition the King of Great Britain, James I, that, seeing that this matter could be laid to rest in no other way than through tolerance, it would please his Royal Majesty to write according to the draft of the enclosed letter to the States-General. This end was secretly and in a private way obtained; and such a letter was sent to the States-General, May 6. The Remonstrants rejoiced greatly about this, and hoping that they would now be able to attain their purpose, they worked through the Advocate to the end that a certain formula of toleration (namely, the same as is in the 4th and 5th Articles, chapter 11, of the Church Order of Utrecht) should be established by the public authority of the States and imposed upon the Churches. Although the feelings of many in the gathering of the States were inclined in this direction, nevertheless the most understanding among them were valiantly opposed to this, considering it to be improper to force upon the Churches a toleration in matters of faith which had never been properly investigated in a lawful ecclesiastical gathering, and which brought with it a manifest change in doctrine. Further, they considered also that the peace of the churches could not be obtained in this way, seeing that it was to be feared that if this were to be permitted, men might present from the same pulpit and for one and the same gathering views which differed so greatly from one another that the peace !of the churches would be more and more disturbed, even as experience had taught to this point. Nevertheless, the Remonstrants continued to press in every way for this toleration and to recommend it publicly and secretly by writings and sermons, using especially this reason, that they said that the articles which were in question were of such little importance that they did not concern the fundamentals of salvation and that in the case of such kinds of articles of doctrine people ought to be tolerant. And so they finally brought it about, July 25, 1614, that this resolution of tolerance, contrary to the wishes and strivings of some of the foremost and strongest Cities of Holland and West-Friesland, was printed, clothed with some expressions of Scripture and of the old fathers, among whom they had also introduced Faustus Regins, who had been the head of the Semi-Pelagians.
When Jacobus Trigland, Minister at Amsterdam, had replied to this in a public writing, then Uitenbogaard had also taken in hand a lengthy defense of this resolution, in which he scandalously slandered and attacked both the doctrine of the Reformed Churches and the foremost lights thereof, Calvin, Beza, Zanchius, and others. Over against this writing, Trigland prepared a careful reply, for the defense both of the honor and the doctrine of the teachers of the Reformed Churches. And when they saw that this document, to which they had given the name of a resolution of the situation, did not have such an authority, they attempted another strategy, in order that they might be able to obtain what they wanted. And to that end, September and October, 1605, everywhere in Holland they invited the Ministers, both secretly and in their gatherings, to subscribe to a certain other formula of toleration, put in deceitful language, by some who secretly adhered to their party and their views, but who were not held to be Remonstrants.
However, when even so they could not get their way, they judged that those who could not be talked over would have to be coerced by the authority of the Regents, and that at last they would have to break through this matter and bring an end to it. TO this end, they achieved it that in the name of the States, this resolution of mutual tolerance, published in the preceding year, was sent to every Classis; and it was simply ordered that the Ministers should subscribe to it without contradiction. And in order that they might more easily get into the service of the Churches those who were of their party, and might exclude all the others, they brought it about that still another resolution was added. By this it was allowed that in the calling of Ministers and Elders they would use the order which was devised in the year 1591, but which was not approved. According to this rule, four would be elected who were delegated by the government, and four others who were delegated by the consistory. These resolutions having been sent to the Classes, many of them sent their Deputies to the States, in order to declare openly and by written document the objections, or gravamina, which they had against this, and to ask that the introduction of these resolutions be withdrawn. But when they arrived at the Hague for that purpose, they learned from the Delegates of some of the chief cities that those resolutions, although they had been forwarded, nevertheless had not yet been established by full and formal approbation of all the States, and therefore could not yet have the force of a law. They therefore found it advisable to refrain from their intended request until the resolutions should be further enforced. This last resolution again gave occasion in many places for new disputes and disturbances, especially in the Churches of Haarlem. For when certain of the Magistrates wanted to have the Ministers called according to this new order, and the Church did not approve that, it happened that they refused to have ecclesiastical fellowship with the Congregation where the Ministers were called in the aforesaid manner; and they refused to acknowledge them as lawful Ministers. Through the same decisions it also happened that some Classes in Holland, which for the sake of peace had until now maintained unity with the Remonstrants in the government of the Churches, now became divided, due to the fact that many Ministers could not consent to these decisions, while the Remonstrants nevertheless desired that the Churches should be governed according to their rule and law. Hence, in order to force this upon their fellow Ministers with authority, they introduced into the Classical gatherings certain Politicians who were either alienated from the Reformed Religion or were loyal to their party; and thus they sought to exercise dominance in the Churches. For the right-minded Ministers, being tired and weary of these disputes which arose daily on account of these things with the Remonstrants, deemed it better to come together without them and separately, and to take care of their churches in peace, rather than to be plagued by their continual disputes.
Meanwhile, Uitenbogaard brought it about that through the authority of certain Leaders, his Fellow-Ministers were ordered to obey these resolutions. When his Fellow-Minister Henricus Roseus said that he could not promise this with a good conscience, he was suspended from the office of Minister by their authority and at Uitenbogaard’s corrupt instigation. Therefore the members of the Church of the Hague who loved the purity of the Reformed doctrine continued the practice of Religion in a separate Church, first in the village of Rijswijk, and later, after they obtained Ministers by loan from other Churches, in the Hague. Later on, at these services the chief men from the States, from the Counselors of both the Courts of Justice and other Colleges, and the Prince of Orange himself and Count Willem Lodewijk of Nassau, forsaking the gathering of the Remonstrants, were present, in order to testify of their agreement in the sound doctrine and their inclination toward the same. The Remonstrants very hatefully called this separation schism, and they sought in every manner to prevent it or to avenge it. Meanwhile they continued to work to get these Resolutions enacted wherever they knew that the Magistrates were favorable to them. When because of this many pious people were punished in the goods and with imprisonments and exile, they appealed to the highest Court of Justice and sought help against this violence. And now the honorable Lord Counselors of the High Council sought to come to the help of the oppressed; but the Remonstrants saw to it, through the Advocate, that the High Council was forbidden to help, and that the hands of the High Court of Justice were tied.
But when many leading Cities of Holland, among them especially the mightiest city of Amsterdam, took position against the enforcement of these Resolutions, March 18, 1616, then it happened, April 24, that Hugo Grotius and certain others were sent to Amsterdam to persuade the Magistrates of that city through their eloquence to accept those Resolutions. When he had tried to do this with a wide-ranging speech, the Magistrates answered that they could in no wise approve it that men should bypass the lawful Synodical gatherings and should take ecclesiastical matters under advisement in the gathering of the States, should make decisions in those matters, and should put those decisions into effect. Further, they answered that it was their intention to stand for the true Christian Religion, the exercise of which had flourished in these lands for fifty years; and they judged that the very least change of this religion would be damaging to the Republic unless it was first properly investigated by a lawful Synod. The Magistrates answered, further, that on this account they could not consent to various proposals and various actions which had taken place since the year 1616, nor could they consent to this last proposition. And they did not desire that under the name of the city of Amsterdam (seeing that it was not one of’ the least members of the gathering of the States) any decisions should be made, much less be put into effect, nor anything should be decided against those who confess the Reformed Religion, unless the differences and changes in the Religion and in ecclesiastical matters, under the authority of the Lords of the States, would be previously investigated and treated in lawful Synods. Yea, they also did not desire that the Preachers who were loyal to the views of the Reformed Religion, defended by the Contraremonstrants, should meanwhile be either suspended from their ministry because they would declare that they could not with a good conscience maintain ecclesiastical unity with the Remonstrants; nor did they desire that the Churches which followed those views should be hindered in the practice of Religion, either under pretense of schism or because they had scruples of conscience against hearing the sermons of the Remonstrants. They declared, further, that they approved all these things until, by the authority of the States, a lawful Synod would be authorized, where the differences and innovations might be properly investigated and treated. Thus the labor and the attempts of the Remonstrants and of those favorable to them were in vain, especially since this advice of the Magistrates of Amsterdam was openly approved by the Magistrates of the Cities of Dordrecht, Enkhuizen, Edam, and Purmerend.